UFC 109: Post Fight Thoughts

Main Card:

Randy Couture Secures Easy Victory Over Mark Coleman

It was apparent from very early on that there was a gulf in class between these two veterans.  Mark Coleman’s previous UFC opponents  Mauricio Shogun Rua and Stephan Bonner should hang their heads in shame for making such heavy weather of a fighter so clearly over the hill.  He looked painfully slow, showed poor defensive ability, and was short of ideas.

Randy Couture may be a year older than Coleman, but on the night he looked 10 years younger.  Everything he tried worked, though I would hesitate to read too much into his striking or submission skills though since in reality this was his easiest fight in years.

Personally I don’t think fighting Mark Coleman should be the stepping stone to a title shot for Couture, but I wouldn’t argue with Dana White’s belief that he is in the mix in the light-heavyweight division.  He still has the skills and stamina to compete at the highest level – but I think his chin will prove to be his downfall against the heavy handed strikers that currently populate the upper reaches of the division.

As for Coleman,  though you have to admire his heart and competitive instinct, his retirement is clearly long overdue.  Thankfully post fight comments from Dana White suggest he is thinking along the same lines.

Chael Sonnen Becomes A Legitimate Title Contender With Win Over Nate Marquardt

Last night Chael Sonnen proved that he can back up his words in the cage as he overwhelmed Nate Marquardt to earn a title shot against the winner of Anderson Silva Vs Vitor Belfort.  The dominant wrestling  he showed against Marquardt suggests that he may well be a handful for either of those two fighters.

Though it’s hard not to be impressed with Sonnen’s control from top position, Marquardt’s performance was still a disappointment.  He looked devoid of ideas from his back for much of the fight, rarely threatening offensively aside from the sharp elbow that cut his opponent in the 2nd round. I expected more from the BJJ black belt.

Before last night my feeling was that I’d have liked Sonnen to get one more fight – perhaps a rematch with Demian Maia (who he lost to previously) – in before receiving a title shot, but after the way things panned out on the night I’m warming to the idea.

As for Marquardt, this is undoubtedly a setback in his own title aspirations, but at 30 years of age he remains one of the divisions top talents and if he can learn from his mistakes in this fight he can come back even better than before.

Paulo Thiago Goes 2-1 Against AKA Fighters After Submission VictoryAgainst Mike Swick

Though I’ve had my doubts about Paulo Thiago, slowly but surely he’s winning me over.  He continues to show solid striking and mat work, and it was nice to finally see a submission from him, since it’s not been something we’ve seen him utilize to often in the UFC despite the majority of his wins back in Brazil coming via his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills.

As for Mike Swick, this was another lackluster performance.  Whether Thiago’s previous performances against his AKA team-mates, or his own previous loss to Dan Hardy was weighing on his mind or not, Swick appeared somewhat gun-shy and not the fighter we’ve seen in the past who, up until November of last year, had been beaten only once in 10 UFC fights.

In the post-fight press conference Dana White admitted that Thiago is now one of the top contenders at 170lbs and it will be interesting to see what comes next for him.   It’s possible that we’ll need to wait for the outcome of the Josh Koscheck Vs Paul Daley and Jon Fitch Vs Thiago Alves fights first before his next opponent becomes clear – though Martin Kampmann is perhaps another interesting option to be considered

As far as Swick is concerned, with back-to-back losses now on his record he has to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to rectify his recent loss of form.

Demian Maia Tests His Stand-Up Skills Against Dan Miller

After being knocked out for the first time in his last fight it was a brave move by Demian Maia to get into a striking match with Dan Miller, and while it wasn’t a performance that’s going to to get the front-runners in the middleweight division quaking in their boots, he did enough to earn the victory.

More surprising than Maia’s decision to stand though was Miller’s lack of offense.  Usually a scrappy fighter he appeared reluctant to exchange, perhaps overly fearful that the BJJ wizard would take him down if he did.  With Maia’s striking still a work-in-progress this left this left the majority of the fight to unfold in a less than thrilling manner.

This wasn’t the impressive display that Maia needed to really propel himself back into the title picture and so he’ll now have to wait while Chael Sonnen, the man he comfortably beat in February of last year, takes the No.1 contender spot.

Miller on the other hand will surely have been disappointed with his display, though he will perhaps take some solace from the fact that he emerged unscathed from the little time he spent on the mat with Maia in this fight.  Now two fights without a win, the pressure will be on to get a win in his next fight.

Matt Serra Serves A Reminder Of The Power In His Hands With A KO Win Over Frank Trigg

Early on in this fight Matt Serra looked to be having a little trouble getting into range with Frank Trigg without being tagged, but when he did get an opportunity to get inside he made it count, making effective use of body punches to set up a powerful overhand right that dropped his counterpart.  A few more accurate strikes to the grounded Trigg was all it took for the referee to call a halt to the proceedings – slightly early in my opinion, though to be fair the eventual outcome of the fight did not look in any doubt at that stage.

Back in the win column, and with his popularity at an all-time high thanks to his recent wise-cracking video blogs and interviews, Matt Serra is in a good place right now, but it’s not clear when we’ll next see him in the octagon.  He has never been a prolific fighter – since 2005 for instance he’s been fighting just once a year, spending the rest of his time running and teaching at his successful Jiu-Jitsu schools.

Frank Trigg’s future seems more clear however.  He’s now suffered two convincing first round defeats in the UFC and it’s more than likely that he will now be cut from the roster.  He has previously went on record saying that he has no desire to fight again in the regional promotions, so at the age of 37 and with a pro record of 19-8, it may well be that we’ve seen the last time that he will step into the cage.

Undercard Thoughts:

Mac Danzig did enough to defeat Justin Buchholz and remain in the UFC, but it perhaps wasn’t the dominant display he had been looking for. 

Melvin Guillard also got back to winning ways, showing improved skills on the ground to avoid danger from the submission savvy Ronys Torres to claim the unanimous decision victory.  It was a close fight so I wouldn’t argue with the decision, though personally I believed Torres should have got the nod.

TUF runner-up Phillipe Nover stepped into the octagon for the first time since passing out back stage at UFN 19, but again he struggled to make his mark, and this loss to Rob Emerson may have put his future in the promotion at risk since he is now 0-3 in the UFC.

Light-heavyweight prospect Phil Davis made it through his UFC debut with a solid win over Brian Stann.  He’s still a work in progress at this stage though with his striking looking rough, and a general lack of a cutting edge in this encounter, but his wrestling ability was evident for all to see, and if he is given the opportunity to develop and round out his skills then he could become a force to be reckoned with in the future.

Chris Tuchscherer meanwhile scraped through to his first UFC victory with a majority decision win over Tim Hague. In the other heavyweight clash in the prelims Rolles Gracie didn’t do his famous name justice, showing rudimentary stand-up skills and a gas-tank that ran-out midway through the first round.  Joey Beltran, fighting for the first time in the UFC on only a weeks notice, was more than happy to capitalize on those weaknesses and claimed a second round TKO victory.


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